THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - July 13, 2018

Jul 16, 2018

In this issue:

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U.S. Workforce Act at White House

The White House received our Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act on Thursday. The President now has 10 days in which to sign the bill, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. The final day for action is July 24. The White House Office of Legislative Affairs contacted us on Thursday morning with the news. We are tracking the bill closely because of its critical importance to everyone in the Marianas. Just the day before, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, as Senate President pro tempore, had signed the bill, the final congressional action before transmittal to the President. Your congressional office has also begun discussion with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about quickly re-opening the application window for FY 2019 CW permits, when the U.S. Workforce Act becomes law. The Trump administration cut CW permits for 2019 in half, to 4,999, leaving many Marianas businesses without needed workers. But the U.S. Workforce Act will raise the number for 2019 to 13,000—the same as in 2016. I want to be sure our local businesses and the workers, who were unable to renew for 2019, can quickly apply for the 8,001 new CW permits that we make available in the U.S. Workforce Act.

Marianas gets $2.3M in TAP and MAP

The Marianas is getting $2,013,649 in Interior Department Technical Assistance Program funding. Congress appropriated $18 million for TAP in fiscal 2018, up $1.2 million from 2017. The Marianas is also getting an additional $296,677 through Interior’s Maintenance Assistance Program. All of this money is intended to help our islands develop economically and become more self-sufficient. Congratulations to all the offices and agencies that successfully competed for this assistance:

  • $363,465 for the Department of Public Works’ composting program,
  • $357,966 for DPW’s recycling redemption facility,
  • $297,077 to the Office on Substance Abuse and Drug Rehabilitation for a licensed and certified psychiatrist,
  • $250,000 to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation for an electronic health record software upgrade,
  • $210,000 to CHC for medical equipment upgrade in the Labor and Delivery Ward,
  • $172,949 to Rota Mayor’s Office for an aquaponics system,
  • $79,921 to DPW for floodplain software and system applications,
  • $77,685 to the CNMI Medical Referral Office for a retrofitted wheelchair accessible van,
  • $68,472 to the CNMI Medical Referral Office for a utilization review nurse,
  • $60,365 to the Office of Public Auditor for professional development training,
  • $49,699 to the Office of Transit Authority Bus Route for staff training, 
  • $26,050 to the Office of Attorney General for child support guidelines,
  • $213,232 to DPW for a new motor grader, and
  • $83,445 to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for a new tractor for the Ma’afala Breadfruit Initiative.

Earlier this month, the Office of Insular Affairs awarded Technical Assistance Program grants to American Samoa ($1.6 million), Guam ($2.5 million), and the U.S. Virgin Islands ($827,812).

Congress provides $3.5M for SPED

Our Public School System is receiving $5,316,110 in fiscal 2018 from two Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Wednesday. $4,839,486 from IDEA Part B, Section 611 goes towards providing all children in the Marianas with disabilities, ages 3 to 21, a free and appropriate public education. $476,624 from IDEA Part C is for early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities through age 2 and to their families. Providing services to children with disabilities is so important, both to the children and to society at large. The more we can help all children reach their full potential, the more fulfilled their lives will be, and the more they will be able to contribute fully to the life of our islands. And, of course, the earlier we can start helping, the better the success rate. Congratulations to PSS.

AMBER Alert bill introduced

The Marianas knows well the pain of missing children. So, this week I joined with Congresswomen Madeliene Bordallo (D-Guam) and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa) to introduce legislation adding our Pacific islands to the national AMBER Alert system. The system mobilizes law enforcement and the community at large in the case of missing, abducted, or exploited children. Our bill, H.R. 6350, authorizes funding from the Departments of Justice and Transportation to implement the system, which is currently in place in all 50 states, Washington D.C. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Indian county. The program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. And it works. As of March this year, 924 children nationwide have been successfully recovered through the AMBER Alert.

Protecting federal workers

Our federal workers serve our nation and deserve fair treatment. That is why I joined 130 of my House colleagues in a letter to President Trump opposing three recently issued Executive Orders that would undermine collective bargaining, union representation, and whistleblower protections for federal employees. The Trump Administration war on federal workers is wrong. These policies make it more difficult to attract and retain quality federal workers. That means worse service by the federal government for the American people.

OPPORTUNITIES

Jobs:

Public Comment:

 

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

THIS WEEK

On the Floor

  • H.R. 50 – Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2017 (Passed, 230-168)
  • H.R. 3281 – Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act (Passed, 233-184)
  • H.R. 6237 – Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 (Passed, 363-54)
  • H.R. 200 – Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (Passed, 222-193)
  • H.R. 1700 – SCORE for Small Business Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 2655 – Small Business Innovation Protection Act of 2017 (Agreed to by voice vote)

Legislation I Cosponsored

  • H.R.5671 – Burn Pits Accountability Act
  • H.R.6350 – To amend the PROTECT Act to expand the national AMBER Alert system to territories of the United States, and for other purposes.

NEXT WEEK

On the Floor

  • H.R. 6147 – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019
  • H.Con.Res. 119 – Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy
  • H.R. 1376 – Electronic Message Preservation Act of 2017
  • House Amendment to S. 899 – Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act
  • H.R. 3555 – Exchange Regulatory Improvement Act
  • H.R. 6321 – Investment Adviser Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act
  • H.R. 6322 – Enhancing Multi-Class Stock Disclosures Act

Committee Activity

Wednesday, July 18

Committee on Natural Resources Legislative Markup